Stress is a diabolical attack that can cause diabetes to spiral out of control. When the body is stressed, it reacts in several ways that affect every part of your body, including your blood glucose levels.
Simply dealing with the day to day management of diabetes is stressful and can become an obstacle to preventing a roller coaster of harmful reactions. The nerve cells in your body releases adrenalin and cortisol when you’re stressed. When you have diabetes, your body may not have the ability to process this sudden rush of glucose.
Relentless stress from a diabetic condition or from other problems can eventually cause mental and physical distress, making the management of your diabetes condition even more difficult.
The Vicious Cycle of Stress on Diabetes
When you add a diagnosis of diabetes to the numerous other stresses you have in your life, it could feel overwhelming. Your diabetes condition may be much more difficult to manage during stressful times because hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine are sent directly to your bloodstream.
The glucose builds up in the bloodstream and, because of diabetes, your body may not be able to turn the glucose into energy and result in a rise of your blood glucose levels. Mental and physical stress cause different reactions depending on whether you have type 1 or 2 diabetes.
Mental stress may affect those with type 2 diabetes, causing an increase in blood glucose levels when under mental stress. Type 1 diabetics could show and decrease or increase in blood glucose levels during mental stress.
Physical stress such as an illness or injury may also cause increases in blood sugar with both type 1 or 2 diabetes. Keeping track of dates where you were especially stressed can help you determine what was happening at the time.
This information can pinpoint stress triggers that increased your blood sugar levels. Then, then you can take the necessary actions to reduce the stress. For example, you may become mentally stressed when you have an important deadline to meet.
You may need to set more short term goals so you can reach the deadline easily without bringing stress into the mix. You can further define your stress triggers by rating the stress level from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest stress level.
Write the number down and then check your glucose levels. It won’t take long for you to see a pattern of what types of stress make your blood sugar levels climb. When you can actually see what’s causing the stress you’ll be better able to take steps to combat it.
The increase in blood sugar is meant to give us energy in the fight-or-flight response when we need it the most. But most of us don’t have to flee from a challenge anymore. Those without diabetes usually have systems that can keep the blood sugar from rising.
With diabetes, that system isn’t working properly, so the blood sugar can spiral out of control. Unless you can control the levels with diet, exercise and medications, you may experience some other health complications.
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Chronic Stress Can Cause Bodily Harm to a Diabetic
Chronic stress can cause diseases and other medical maladies for those who don’t have diabetes. But, if you have been diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes, the chances are much greater that stress will cause much more damage.
Diabetics simply don’t have enough insulin to cope with the rise in blood sugar that chronic stress causes. Type 1 diabetics produce no insulin and type 2 diabetics have a serious deficit, making it impossible to fight off the constant attack.
Chronic stress to a diabetic is like a chisel and hammer continuously pounding on a rock holding up a statue. Sooner or later, that rock will wear down and the statue will fall. Your body will do the same unless you find a way to control the stress.
Some of the medical problems that can occur when a diabetic experiences chronic stress includes blindness, high blood pressure and strokes, cardiovascular disease, kidney and nerve problems.
When chronic stress affects the nerves, foot numbness may occur. The fallout from this is that you’re much more prone to injuries and infections that are difficult to heal. Stress may also cause you to binge eat or not eat enough to help your diabetic condition.
Chronic stress caused by emotional issues such as a divorce or loss of job can cause many reactions in your body that can affect your diabetic condition in negative ways. Physical stress such as the flu, chronic pain or headaches can also be a problem, but it’s the longer-lasting stressors that have more of an effect on diabetes.
Those who battle with stress may stop exercising or enjoying life because they’re too drained, emotionally, to make the effort. This creates and compounds the vicious cycle of blood sugar highs and lows.
You may go through periods when you don’t realize you’re stressed, but it can silently wreak havoc on your emotional and mental state of mind. If you know how to recognize the symptoms of stress, you’re more apt to be able to manage it successfully.
Some symptoms of stress include persistent headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, too much or too little sleep and feeling as if you’re becoming ill. All of these symptoms can cause you to feel anxious and unmotivated.
When you experience chronic stress, it can cause you to react in negative ways such as withdrawing from social activities, becoming irritable and angry or eating and drinking (alcohol) too much.
If you’re a diabetic, it’s especially imperative that you take steps to reduce your stress levels before it causes more severe medical complications. Everyone will have stress periodically, but it’s the long-lasting stress that causes a problem for diabetics.
Monitoring Stress and Blood Sugar Levels Is Important for Diabetics
Self-monitoring of your stress and blood sugar levels is an important tool in managing a diabetic condition and preventing some of the complications that can arise from chronic stress.
The first step in finding out how stress may be affecting your blood sugar levels is to figure out when to test your blood sugar, depending on the type of diabetes you have and the medications you may be taking.
Diabetics know the importance of monitoring blood sugar levels, but stress levels should be monitored also, since stress has such an impact on raising blood sugar levels and causing damage.
Recognizing when you’re under stress is sometimes difficult, but there are signs of chronic stress such as lack of sleep, headaches or chronic fatigue that can tip you off. Understanding how your body responds to stress is key to being able to control blood sugar levels.
If you have symptoms of stress, you should monitor your blood sugar levels very closely to see how the stress is affecting you. Try to find a solution to the stress you’re experiencing and then test it again until you find a solution that works.
Keep trying to find a solution for your stress. If not, you could face the risk of developing dire consequences as a result of continuous high blood sugar levels. As you monitor your progress with fighting stress, assess how well your treatment goals are being met.
Also, monitor the effects of stress when you’re taking diabetes medications and when you aren’t. Your doctor may need to adjust the meds accordingly. The stress in your life probably isn’t going to disappear, but you can reduce the risks associated with it.
Non-diabetics also run the risk of developing illnesses and diseases from too much stress, but those with type 1 or 2 diabetes are much more likely to manifest stress in negative ways.
That’s why the diabetic under stress must go the extra mile to alleviate the symptoms of stress and be able to find solutions to lessen the effects on their blood sugar. You may not be able to keep stress out of your life, but you can change the way you handle it.
You can read How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Part 2 HERE